A second-half goal by Catalina Usme fired Colombia to a 1-0 win over Jamaica and carried the South Americans to their first Women’s World Cup quarter-final.
The captain’s 51st-minute strike sent Colombian fans into delirium at a packed Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Tuesday and ensured they will battle England for a place in the last four.
What had been a testy and physical clash up to halftime exploded into life after Usme’s breakthrough, the first time Jamaica’s defence has been breached in this World Cup, with both teams attacking furiously.
Jamaica’s “Reggae Girlz” had chances to level the match but bowed out swinging, having reached the knockout phase in their second World Cup.
Having not conceded a goal all tournament, Jamaica stifled the Colombians early, often leaving their players splayed on the turf with heavy tackles.
Colombia wunderkind Linda Caicedo was kept quiet on the left flank, and the South Americans’ first decent scoring chance had to wait until a corner in the 38th minute.
It was wasted, though, with Jorelyn Carabali sending a wild volley from the edge of the area sailing over the bar.
Referee Kate Jacewicz lost patience with the Jamaicans’ physicality, handing out two yellow cards in five minutes to defender Chantelle Swaby and midfielder Drew Spence near halftime.
It was Colombia’s new girl Ana Maria Guzman breaking the game open after the break, the 18-year-old full back finding Usme in space on the right with a long cross.
Usme took the ball past Jamaica defender Deneisha Blackwood and fired a low, left-foot strike inside the far post.
Jamaica had a golden chance to level three minutes later when Blackwood’s corner picked out Jody Brown in front of goal but the midfielder’s header pinged off the base of the left post.
Jamaica pushed forward in desperation as regulation time dwindled.
Drew Spence rose to meet a Tiffany Cameron cross but thumped her header just wide of the left post in the 82nd minute, allowing Colombia to hold firm to the finish.
Jamaica’s Khadija Shaw was an attacking force with Manchester City last season, scoring 20 goals in 22 league games, but she ended up scoreless at the World Cup.
“We just have to be proud of our performance and lift our heads up,” Shaw said in a post-game television interview. “The gap is closing.”